Fewer rape cases sent to CPS for possible charging

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THE number of cases Yorkshire police forces referred to the Crown Prosecution Service for possible charging was lower for each of the last two years than in any of the preceding three, new figures show.

South Yorkshire referred as many as 165 cases in 2010 but the number dropped to 71 and then 107 in the last two years.

The 47 referrals North Yorkshire made in 2013 was less than half the 106 in 2009 and it was a similar picture in Humberside where 70 and 75 were referred to the CPS compared to 148 in 2010.

The high-point for West Yorkshire over the last five years was 303 in 2010, whereas the last two years have seen 174 and 225 cases referred. The figures do reflect a national trend with 8,377 cases passed to the CPS in 2010 but only 5,509 last year.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has acknowledged the drop is concerning.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt, ACPO’s lead on adult sex offences, said: “The police service has worked hard to provide a victim focussed response to rape investigations and this work will continue. There have been significant improvements in the specialist training of officers, the introduction of early evidence kits, greater access to sexual assault referral centres, and increased partnership working with support groups.

“The fall in the number of rape or domestic abuse cases that police are reporting to the Crown Prosecution Service is a concern. Chief officers, the CPS and the Home Office have commissioned research in seven forces so that we can understand why this fall in referrals has taken place and find the best way of tackling any issues that are identified.”

Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said: “The drop in referrals reflects a national trend which needs more work to fully understand, however I am reassured that West Yorkshire Police has a higher conviction rate than the national average. I have raised this issue with the Chief Constable and I understand West Yorkshire Police are actively looking into why the referral rate has dropped here.”

A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “We understand that there has been a national decline in the number of rape referrals to the CPS. To our knowledge there has not been a change in guidance or policy. However, it would not be appropriate for us to speculate on the reasons why there has been a decline in referrals to the CPS, in case it undermines the progress of any national investigation into the reasons for this decline.”